If you’re familiar with the concept of mindfulness, you know that essentially it’s a commitment to paying attention; to our breathing, to our stress level, to our hunger and fullness cues, to the beauty that surrounds us – it’s a commitment to actually increasing our awareness of what’s happening in our own little world.
At its simplest, mindfulness is a way to “tune in”. And I’m all for it.
Many of my clients spend lots of time and energy actively ignoring the messages their body sends – or, tuning OUT. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a plea for more movement, less junk, or more solitude – their body’s honest wisdom is too honest, and they’re happy to dismiss it, thank you very much.
Yet, what happens when we do “tune in”, only to disregard the messages because they’re too real, too painful, too scary, too uncomfortable?
Sadly, what happens is more of the same.
The same unhealthy habits, unhealthy behaviors, and a dearth of self-care. We continue a slow, steady spiral into the abyss of unawareness, until our doctor, therapist, even a family member gently (or urgently) reminds us, “You need to take care of yourself”.
Given all of that, while I’m all for tuning in, I’m an even bigger fan of hearing, and then actually ACTING on those messages. That’s right. ACTING on them, not dismissing them.
For example, say your body sends a message that you’re “too” something; too tired, too stressed, too bored, too lonely.
When you ignore rather than act on that message, you become vulnerable, which in turn may lead you to engage in “too much” of exactly the things you’re trying to do less of; eat, drink, exercise (yes, too much is unhealthy), watch t.v., get drawn into Facebook drama.
How can you learn to tune in, and then make the move to ACT?
One way is to listen, really, really well, in order to get a crystal clear message.
Here’s one suggestion for practicing just that. Recently, a friend recommended this book, “Listening Below The Noise” http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/listening-below-the-noise-anne-d-leclaire/1111740120?ean=9780061353369. The author, Anne LeClaire, declared two Mondays each month – for 17 years! – a day of silence.
I’m not suggesting you jump full-force into that practice, easing in is never a bad strategy, but I certainly think there’s merit in quieting our minds and our surroundings. We’re overdosing on noise and external stimulation, both of which make it close to impossible to listen, hear the message, then act.
Can you make a commitment to becoming more attuned to your body? If this book (which is on my summer travel reading list), or even this blog post help you head in that direction – I’m thrilled.
Shhhhh, what do you hear?